Tag Archives: brain health

Now what was I coming into this room for???(musings on keeping your memory sharp)

What I am doing here? who is this???(compliments of "Menopaws"

What I am doing here? who is this???(compliments of “Menopaws”)

I would bet that most of you have experienced at least one moment of wondering why the heck you wandered into a room…..and then just stood there looking around in hopes that some sort of message would magically appear reminding you of your purpose. I cannot tell you how many times that has happened to me but I can say it has happened far too often.  I am also going to assume that most of you are concerned with memory loss and the possibility of dementia and/or Alzheimers as you age.  As many of us are destined to live longer lives, it becomes more likely that our minds will age along with our bodies: a scary thought indeed. Ah, but there are many strategies available to us in our quest to keep our minds and memories sharp as we age. Gracefuly aging in all aspects of our lives is the key to living a higher quality and quantity of life.

So let’s review some of the strategies that we have at our disposal to keep our minds sharp and our memories intact as we do begin to age.  I heard a wonderful piece this morning on NPR that talks about some of the latest research re: memory and the best ways to make sure that we stretch and grow new neuronal connections as we get older, which will enhance our ability to keep learning, stay vibrant and store new memories as well.

http://www.npr.org/2014/05/05/309006780/learning-a-new-skill-works-best-to-keep-your-brain-sharp?ft=1&f=3

Learning a new skill can help your brain be sharper and improve your memory

Learning a new skill can help your brain be sharper and improve your memory

In addition, getting regular exercise is another pillar of memory strength. I have always loved to work out in some form or another(running in my 20’s and 30’s, walking regularly since then, swimming, pretending to play golf(seriously that is one fun but frustrating sport!), hiking, and skiing.  I took up tennis almost 2 years ago and it has been a blast. There is quite a learning curve involved and I am definitely still climbing up that curve but it has forced me to think while I build new muscle memory. There have been some studies that promote this kind of thinking while exercising as one of the better ways to build memory, but any aerobic and active type of exercise enhances the brain’s potential for learning and storing new information. The most important thing is to just get out there and get active. Here is a link to the importance  between exercise and brain health:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110

Exercise is not only great for your body: it is also essential for your brain and memory…find something you love to do….another essential of balance

Exercise is not only great for your body: it is also essential for your brain and memory…find something you love to do….another essential of balance

Vitamin D also plays a role in brain health and cognitive strength. According to Dr. Oz, “Scientists hypothesize that improved cognition may be linked to the sun’s effect on the body’s internal clock; exposure to daylight(natural vitamin D) may boost the production of the neurotransmitter seritonin, which in turn spurs growth of the hippocampus, that part of the brain crucial to forming and storing memories.” He recommends( as do I) that every day we should go outside and spend between 15-20 minutes  before applying sunscreen so that our bodies can make Vitamin D ourselves. In general, we still do need to take additional vitamin D: more on that in a future blogpost. Bottomline, make sure you get outside every day possible as this will help both your brain and your mood.

Adequate sleep also clearly has an effect on our memory. Most of us(myself included, far too: often, mea culpa) get far too little of this precious activity most days.  In general, 7-8 hours of sleep is recommended to help our bodies and our brain to restore and rejuvenate. Think of sleep as time to recharge your battery. I imagine you have the same reaction that I do when I see that dreaded message on my cell phone: “less than 20% battery” and I have left my cord at home: panic! I usually feel the same way towards the end of a busy work day when I stayed up and out too late the night before and I am dragging, just not as sharp as usual. Note to self: get more sleep.

A baby seal taking a 'catnip' on the beach: ah, the bliss of a deep sleep…..

A baby seal taking a ‘catnip’ on the beach: ah, the bliss of a deep sleep…..

One more memory/brain potential robber: STRESS!!! We have touched on this in previous blogposts but briefly, when we are under stress(prolonged, frequent, unrelenting stress), cortisol is released to help our body fight “the attacker”, real or perceived.  Unfortunately, this adaptive response often leads to a maladaptive state, leaving our mind and body depleted. The result: poorer learning capability and difficulty storing new memories. Studies of inner city children, faced with the stresses of poverty, crime, poor nutrition and inadequate social support, have shown over and over how difficult it is to try to learn in school when under chronic stress. The same concept applies to all of us, whatever our stresses may be.  So managing your stress is something each of us must learn to do.  Think exercise, meditation, eating whole foods, making time for yourself, your family, your friends, take regular vacations, prayer…more work is not usually the answer…

Meditation, exercise, quiet time…all ways to manage your stress.  Be sure to find time each day for activities like these.

Meditation, exercise, quiet time…all ways to manage your stress. Be sure to find time each day for activities like these.

I haven’t touched on everything that can impact your memory but these are some of the more powerful things that you can work on.  Obviously eating whole foods diet and balancing your hormones are both essential for brain health as well. Hopefully that goes without saying if you have been reading our blog for awhile.

As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts and ideas . Stay tuned as Candace and I are getting ready to do some webinars together starting in July. We will provide the links for these so that you can log in and listen.

To building  great memories…..and remembering them, LOL.

 

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Filed under Essentials, Hormone Imbalance, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Whole Eating, Women's Health & Happiness, Women's Work/Life Balance

Are you nuts???? the good news about them(and us!)

Holiday parties are in full swing and with that comes the risk of adding on extra pounds. I mentioned in one of my recent posts that the average American gains 14 pounds(yikes!) between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. That is just not acceptable.

So what can YOU do to  avoid this? Nuts have been getting quite a lot of attention these past few years:  they are full of fiber, unsaturated fats, nutrients that help your brain and immune system work better, loaded with flavor and best of all, when eaten in moderation, they may help you actually lose weight.

What??? How can that be? Nuts are fattening, right? Well, they are nutrient and calorie dense foods but recent studies have shown that they may in fact stave off your appetite when eaten early in the day and help you eat less as the day goes on.

Here is a recent article in the NY Times. Do click on the video in the article as well. It is a fascinating subject.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/18/dining/are-nuts-a-weight-loss-aid.html?ref=health

Throughout the years we have all been bombarded with a barrage of weight loss programs: low fat/ high carb, high fat/low carb, Atkins, Skillman, Paleo, vegan, South Beach: it gets very confusing. How does someone know which diet is right for them and which foods are best to eat? Michael Pollan has seven simple words that he uses to distill it all down: Eat food(whole), not too much, mostly plants.

Nuts grow on trees, as do avocados and fruits. It just makes sense that they are good for us, doesn’t it? Candace and I will continue to tackle this complex topic in the coming months but for now, grab a handful of nuts in the morning and perhaps for a mid-afternoon snack and know that you are doing something wonderful for your body and your brain.

Happy holidays to you and your families.

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Filed under Kyle Bell McAvoy, Whole Eating, Women's Health & Happiness

MUST READS for Gifting Balance this Christmas

As promised, and in time for Christmas giving I have put together my all-time “must-reads”  that not only speak to me of balance but help me find and sustain it in the midst of the slings and arrows of daily living….many of my best picks for mind, body and soul balancing guidance  can be easily-peasily ordered online from our Menopausibilities Women’s Health Shop. Okay here’s my list of essential, can’t stay in balance without fantabulous reads.

HORMONE BALANCING:
The Wisdom of Menopause, Christianne Northrup, M.D.

Hormone Balance Made Simple, John R. Lee, M.D. (any of the books by John R. Lee including: What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About MenopauseWhat Your Doctor May Not Tell You About PreMenopauseWhat Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer: How Hormone Balance Can Help Save Your Life  (w/ David Zava PhD.)

The Cortisol Connection, Shawn Talbott

 Adrenal Fatigue, The 21st Century Stress Syndrome, Dr. Jim Wilson, N.D.

The Mood Cure, Julia Ross

The books that speak of balance are essential to finding it in your body, mind and soul.

The books that speak of balance are essential to finding it in your body, mind and soul.


MIND and SOUL Balancing
:

The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin

Gift From the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindberg

Sex and the Seasoned Woman, Gail Sheehy

Women, Food and God, Geneen Roth

Magnificent Mind at Any Age, Daniel G. Amen, M.D.

Wild, From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail, Cheryl Strayed

The Art of Happiness, Dalai Lama

Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, Deepak Chopra, M.D.


Body Balancing:

True Food
, Andrew Weil, M.D.

Fight Fat After 40, Pamela Peeke, M.D.

Super Nutrition for Menopause, Anne Marie Gittleman

The Thyroid Diet, Mary J. Shomon

French Women Don’t Get Fat, Mireille Guiliano

Stay tuned, next post for Kyle’s TOP Books of Balance for the NEW YEAR!! May your days be merry, bright, and above all in balance!!

Christmas coming on - not hot flashes!

Give the gift of Balance this Christmas! Happy Holidays! Candace, Rye and Dave

 

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Filed under Candace Burch, Women's Health & Happiness